It’s been a big week for live music in the Triangle, and especially in Chapel Hill. With sold-out shows like Okkervil River / Titus Andronicus and Matt & Kim / the Hood Internet, you might assume that Cat’s Cradle’s schedule was the highlight of the week. You would be wrong in that assumption.
The true headline this week, and perhaps for the entire year up to this point, took place a couple blocks away at the Local 506 on Thursday night. The night opened with a small blues-rock band called the Toddlers. With a frontman whose baritone vocals and enrapturing stage presence would rival those of the best blues singers in recent memory, you knew after only two songs that you were in for a treat. The simplicity of the bass lines and the subtle complexity of the percussion complimented their guitar-playing lead man perfectly as they played a great blend of folksy indie rock and Doors-esque blues (minus the whirling keyboards). They are not what you’d expect as an opener for Times New Viking, but were great in their own right and are sure to make waves in a scene that lacks a lot of what they have to offer.
Times New Viking, in contrast, were everything you knew they would be — loud, reverb-blasted, rough as hell, and more fun than any music fan ought to have the capacity to absorb. They mostly stuck to material off of their latest album DANCER EQUIRED, which was fine by us since it is one of their strongest albums start-to-finish and a theanimalscankillyou.com favorite. They also threw in a few not-so-new tunes, like “Move to California” and “City on Drugs”, which were both outstanding. Amazingly, their raucous studio sound translated perfectly live, and actually seemed a little cleaner and tighter than on the albums (complete opposite of 99% of the bands you’ll see), and made for a phenomenal show.
The crowd was perfect, both in size (about 2/3 capacity) and knowledge/appreciation of the music. Everyone there knew why they were there instead of seeing Matt and Kim, and everyone seemed to have the time of their life watching the Ohio-based lo-fi noise-poppers rock the walls off the 506. The only disappointment was the fact that there was no real encore, but I don’t know that any show I’ve ever been to has been less in need of one.
I went in hoping not to be let down by a band I regard very highly (top 10-15 all-time), and left in utter amazement that the show not only met expectations but took those expectations and ripped them to shreds. I was thinking this was one of the better shows I’d see in June. This was truly one of the better shows I’ve ever seen.